Tuesday, June 28, 2011

And the BeBe has arrived

Yesterday our granddaughter Elisabeth, a/k/a BeBe, arrived.  Bill had to stay on the boat for reasons explained below.  Zachary stayed with him.  So I made the trip to the airport to fetch Elisabeth by myself.  This is very easy from Zea Marina.  

I walked the mile or so to the main port of Piraeus where all the ferries dock.  About a block from there I caught the X96 express bus from Piraeus Port to Venizelos Airport.  This trip takes about one hour as the airport is located SE of Athens and the port is on the western side of Athens.

BeBe was all smiles when she exited the baggage claim/Customs area with the airline attendant.  I presented my passport and signed the forms to accept delivery of my granddaughter.  Then we located her luggage and found our way to the area to catch the bus back to the port.  This is a little bit confusing due to lack of signage at the airport.  There is a sign directing you to go outside for trains, taxis and buses.  But when you get outside there are signs only for taxis and trains.  Eventually we found someone to ask and learned that the buses stop all the way down to the right after you exit the arrival hall areas.  We arrived there just as the X96 bus arrived.  Lucky us.

BeBe chatted constantly all the way back to town. -- she had so much to tell me, none of which I think she even remembers talking about.  She was very tired.   She recently participated in the National American Miss in the Junior Preteen Class and I think her participation in this organization helped her mature.  The purpose was to encourage her to not be shy and to be able to speak with poise to strangers.  The added benefit were the lessons in manners and proper behavior for young ladies.  She placed in the regionals but did not rank in the nationals.  But she enjoyed the experience and thinks she will do better next year because now she understands how the pageant operates and what is expected of her.  She is much more grown-up than when we saw her last during our trip to Houston in November.  So, even though I have always thought of beauty pageants as frivolous, the National American Miss Pageant does serve a purpose.   Certainly helped this little girl become more self-confident.  And much more polite.

We exited the X96 bus at the destination point next to the yellow building where the train/subway starts.  On the side street next to that building we caught the 904 bus.  The 904 winds through Piraeus downtown and then around the point to Zea Marina.  We exited in front of the Carrefour supermarket right across the street from where our yacht was docked.  The buses were more convenient than taking a taxi from the airport because the taxi drivers rarely know how to get to the marina; whereas, the bus runs on the street right around the marina.  And the buses cost a small fraction of the cost of a taxi for that long ride to/from the airport.

Tired BeBe after traveling 18 hours
I unpacked her duffel bag and stowed her clothes while she chatted away with Zachary.  Then she fell asleep while sitting on the companionway steps.  This was a very early night for her!  Shortly after she fell asleep the marina staff arrived and said we had to move to another berth because the big motor yacht that berths full time in this spot had returned.  We pulled in the stern lines and dropped the bow lines back into the water; motored over to the other side of the marina; and backed into another empty space on a perpendicular pontoon.  

Too bad that we are now much farther away from the supermarket and no longer on the wall.  We are checking out of the marina today and moving to an anchorage -- probably Varkiza because it is so nice.  The holding tanks are full, so it is time to leave anyway.  They do not have pump-outs here.  So boats go out several miles to dump their holding tanks.  That will be our first chore when we leave; then decide where to visit next.  Elisabeth wants to visit the Temple of Athena.  As long as the weather is nice, we should be able to anchor in Varkiza and take the bus to central Athens, then take the subway to the Acropolis.  Turns out that the Temple of Athena is up on that hill right next to the Parthenon.  We were right there last week but did not know what we were looking at!  Guess we will be going again.

BTW, American friends visited the Acropolis last week.  A pick-pocket got to them on the subway.  Lost wallet with cash and all credit cards.  Be careful of pick-pockets if visiting Athens.  They are very proficient.

Oh, yes.  Almost forgot to explain the reasons why Bill had to remain on the boat today.  Firstly, we had diesel delivered.  There is no fuel dock here.  Instead, diesel is delivered by truck.  Price today was 1.5 Euro per liter, which is $8.16 USD per gallon.  $789.97 for 370 liters to top off our fuel tank.  Glad we don't have to do that every week!!!!  

Secondly, Bill wanted the generator checked out.  It had become impossible to start unless we first started the engine.  Bill had already replaced the starter but that did not solve the problem.  He really did not think it would, but it was worth a shot and we had a spare starter.  He had checked all the batteries and they all registered 13.2 volts or higher.  He had switched the starting battery with one of the house batteries to see if that would help -- it didn't.  Bill had tried everything he could think of but could not solve the generator starting issue, so it was time for a real Onan serviceman to solve this problem.  The Onan guy came out yesterday and performed exactly all the steps that Bill had already tried.  Problem was not with the generator.  

Our AGM batteries were purchased 18 November 2006, so they were 4 years 7 months old.  As I said, each registered a minimum of 13.2 volts when tested with everything turned off.  After the Onan serviceman could find no problem with the generator, Bill called a battery shop.  They delivered and installed 13 new batteries yesterday afternoon.  This time we bought sealed lead-acid batteries rather than AGMs.  There are exactly like the ones Amel originally installed in this boat at the factory.  $3,059.45 USD for 13 batteries, and they carted off the old batts.  That is way more than it should have cost, but was the best price Bill could find locally.  Just another example of the overvaluation of the Euro.

Note added 28 June:  Good thing she arrived yesterday.  Today the airport controllers in Athens went on strike and thousands of protesters almost shut down the port area. 

Note added 1 July:  Zea Marina does have pump out facilities.  They just don't bother to tell transient yachts about it.  There is a charge to pump out and there was a pump out station right behind the last berth we were assigned to.  Can't believe the office staff doesn't bother to tell visitors about these pump out stations.  Bill found out simply by accident just as we were leaving the marina.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Temple of Poseidon & boat repairs

Zach at Temple of Poseidon
The first day back at Sounion while waiting out the meltimi the fuel pump on our Onan generator failed.  Not a problem; or so we thought.  Like any thinking sailor, we had stocked up on as many spare parts as possible before setting out across the Pacific.  One of those spares was a replacement fuel pump for the generator.  Just switch it out and all will be fine again.

Except for one minor detail.   Our spare pump was off by one digit.  Should have been something like 2311 and the one we had was 2331.  Anyway, the spare was the wrong pump and could not be modified to work with our generator.  After researching for hours, Bill located the correct pump at a shop near Alimos Marina.  Further research determined that a bus ran from Sounion to Athens several times daily.  Ahh!  A day of adventure for Bill and Zach.  I stayed on the boat because there was no way we would leave it unattended at anchor with winds gusting over 35 knots.  Trey opted to remain on the boat with me because riding in a bus for several hours sounded painful to his knee.

BeBe is boat just left of Zach's hat brim
We helped Bill get the dinghy in the water and the outboard mounted; and Bill and Zach headed off to the nearest resort to find out where to board the bus to Athens.  Turned out that you board the bus up near the Temple of Poseidon.  So they hiked up that hill to await the next bus.  They did not have the camera so Bill took a few crappy photos with his phone.  

Soon the bus arrived and they were off.  Bill brought the handheld GPS with the shop address programed.  How convenient.  A few hours later they had the correct pump in hand and were waiting for the return bus to Sounion. 
Zach at Temple of Poseidon
They did not know the trick to getting a bus to stop to pick them up; so the first bus passed them by as they stood in the bus stop area.  They watched other people and realized that you must hold your hand outstretched straight to signal the bus to stop; otherwise, the bus just skips stopping at the designated bus stop.  By 15:00 they were back in Sounion.  Mission accomplished.

Bill at Temple of Poseidon
They took the opportunity to walk around the Temple of Poseidon again.  They back down the hill and dinghy back to the boat.  The winds were still in the 30 knot range all day.  Minutes after returning to the boat, Bill had the new fuel pump installed and the generator, watermaker and washing machine were all operating simultaneously.  Life was good again aboard S/V BeBe.

We stayed in this anchorage for 2 nights.  On the third day the winds were down to 20-25 knots and we decided to move farther northward to a nice anchorage at Varkiza that Bill and Zachary had seen from the bus.  The sailing guide didn't offer much information about this anchorage.  Don't know why because it turned out to be the best anchorage we have visited thus far in Greece.

Varkiza has a long sand beach, half filled with lounge chairs and umbrellas and the other half open to the non-paying public -- bring your own chairs and umbrellas.  There were wind surfers zooming all around.  Also had speed boats pulling tourists laying on large floats.  Well-marked swim areas along the beach.  Really a very nice area with immediate access to restaurants. bars, bakeries and stores.  Bottom was sand and very good holding.  What more could you ask for!  People on the few boats anchored there were swimming off their boats after the winds abated somewhat. 

On the second day Trey and Zach went ashore for lunch.  They returned raving about what a good meal they enjoyed.  Also returned bearing treats from the bakery they found by following their noses.  That afternoon we tied fenders on long lines on the back of the boat so Trey and Zach could swim.  The wind was still blowing so strong that we were afraid they might get swept away.  Zachary often held onto the fenders and ropes and I think he tired quickly trying to swim and stay near our boat, but Trey swam without any assistance.

The change the next morning was astounding.  The winds were completely calm.  Seas were completely flat.  Back to "Lake Med" conditions -- as Trey has dubbed it.  The entire time he was visiting us, conditions were either flat calm with no wind whatsoever.......or winds were 25-35 knots and seas steep and choppy.  This is really a crappy place for sailing.  Better to have a motor vessel if "sailing" the Greek isles.

We motored back to Zea Marina.  It was a tiny thrill to spot a US warship anchored just outside the entrance to the marina.  We had heard Warship 61 on the VHF radio the previous day and knew they were somewhere in the vicinity.   Who knows why they are in Greece.  As soon as we were docked we confirmed with George the Famous Taxi Driver that he would pick up Trey at 03:15 for the trip to the airport.   Trey's time with us was up already.  My, the time flew!!  Wish he could have seen more of the islands but the high winds prevented that from happening.  He did not get to see very much of Greece, but he did see how we live aboard BeBe.  This was his first visit with us on this boat.  

Zucchini on steroids?
BTW, we discovered a slightly odd-looking vegetable while Trey was with us.  We think it is a version of zucchini, except that it is shaped like a cantaloupe.  Both Trey and Zachary like this version of zucchini better than the normal long skinny zucchini.  Wonder what this is called?

Chocolate filled vanilla wafer
Chocolate filled vanilla wafer
Speaking of unusual foods, in Marmaris we bought a small package of cookies.  These things were wonderful!  Wish we had bought more.  They were like vanilla wafers filled with dark chocolate.  It is the little things in life that bring so much pleasure.  Vanilla wafers are like a little piece of heaven and cannot be found hardly anywhere outside the USA.  Having vanilla wafers filled with dark chocolate is heaven on earth. 

Tomorrow morning I will meet our granddaughter Elisabeth, a/k/a BeBe, at the airport.  She will be with us until mid-August, enjoying the company of her cousin Zachary, as we explore more of Greece. 

Left Athens to visit a few islands

Temple of Poseidon at Sounion
After our day trip to the Parthenon we decided it was time to get out of town.  Back to the islands, as the song goes.  Except that our first stop was not a real island but instead at Sounion at the very tip of the mainland peninsula, anchored right beneath the Temple of Poseidon.  Later, it turned out that we would visit this anchorage often due to bad weather.  We did not go ashore during our first visit to Sounion.  But the Temple of Poseidon looked really nice all lit up at night on the top of that hill overlooking the sea to one side and the anchorage bay on the other side.  This truly is the perfect location for a temple dedicated to the God of the Sea.

Temple of Poseidon at Sounion
The Temple of Poseidon was built circa 444 B.C.  Amazing that so much of it is still standing.  Granted, not much is in the original condition.  Mainly just a foundation and columns; but it still amazes me that these columns are still erect after almost 2500 years in an area known for earthquakes.

The next morning we moved on to the island of Kea.  Again motoring, of course.  Trey calls this Lake Med -- the seas totally flat glassy calm and not a breath of breeze.  Using lots of that expensive diesel this summer!

Swimming behind our boat in Kea
Swimming in Kea
We anchored in the same place we had anchored during our previous stop at Kea....near the old coaling station in the northern tip of the large bay.   Trey and Zach were hot and immediately jumped for a quick dip.  Bill and I think they are crazy to get in that cold water, but they enjoyed it.  Maybe soon it will be warm enough for us to jump in too. 

Kid's sailing lesson in Kea
In the bay not too far from where we anchored in Kea there were small sailing dinghies.  I really, really wish our grandson and granddaughter lived in an area where they could participate in a program like this.   They would enjoy it so much.

This was our first time to take a stern line ashore.  I really don't like doing this because it is a major hassle.  We carry the dinghy upside down on the mizzen deck and the outboard either mounted on the rail or stored down in the stern lazarette when at sea.  When we set the anchor then we must put the dinghy in the water and mount the outboard so that Bill can take a line ashore to tie off.  There is plenty of swinging room and the depths are perfect in this section of the bay, so why bother to do this stern-line-ashore nonsense!  However, the last time we were in Kea so many boats arrived on Saturday afternoon that the shores were lined completely.  So we brought a stern line ashore just in case this Saturday afternoon turned out to be as busy as the previous weekend had been.  For some reason, it wasn't.  This Saturday hardly any boats came to Kea and we shared this section of the bay with only a few other boats.  We needn't have bothered with that stern line after all.

Zachary wanted to fish.  We convinced him to wait until sunset (about 9:30 p.m. here).  Then he and his dad got in the dinghy and tied off to that silly stern line we had tied to shore.  They sat out there for 3 hours fishing in the dark.   Nary a nibble, but they enjoyed it.

The next morning we motored down to a beautiful bay called Ormos Kolona on the island of Kythnos; latitude 37.24.88N longitude 024.22.62E. 
Kythnos -- 2 anchorages back-to-back

This is a long bay open to the west.  Mega yachts lined the sides, tied stern-to the shore.  We went up near the beach and anchored to swing; none of the line-ashore stuff today.  This is a beautiful place.  There is a narrow strip of beach connecting the main island to a large segment that could almost be a separate small island if tides were a foot higher.  Behind this strip of beach is another anchorage and another bay.  Yachts anchor both east and west of this strip of beach in the different bays.  We were here to meet up with S/V IMAGINE from Chicago-- Marc and Jane and their kids Caroline, Grant and Noah.  We thought Zach and their kids would enjoy playing together for a few hours.

Marc & Jane, S/V IMAGINE from Chicago
The anchorage filled up quickly after our arrival and we worried that IMAGINE might not find space to anchor.  But they managed to anchor near us with no problem.  Later almost all the other boats left and IMAGINE moved to a better location nearby.  It was nice having the bay almost to ourselves that night.  For some reason all the other yachts moved around and anchored in the bay behind the strip of beach.  Of course, they were all charter boats and maybe their charter briefing had told them to do that.  Whatever the reason, we were delighted to have the western side of the beach and bay all to ourselves for the night.

Water Football on S/V IMAGINE
Bill took Zach over to meet the kids on IMAGINE and soon they were playing "water football."  The rules were vague but something about throwing a football while someone jumps off the boat.  They score in they can catch the football before landing in the water.  Good exercise.  Zach told me later he felt a little bad because he is so much heavier than Grant and Noah, and that they have such good suntans.  I told him that is because they live on a boat and are in the sun and swimming a lot and get lots more exercise than he gets back in Houston.  He was envious of their strong abdominal muscles and now wants to work on his.

Jane reminded us that it was Father's Day (really?  hadn't even thought about that!)  Caroline baked special brownies for her dad for Father's Day and they invited us over to share after dinner.  The kids watched a movie and played and ate all the remaining brownies while we adults sat on the stern deck and visited.  A good time was had by all.

Early the next morning Zachary asked Bill to take him ashore.  He wanted to climb the hill by himself.  There are ancient ruins on the high hillside.  Frankly, we would probably not have realized these were ancient ruins if the sailing guide had not mentioned this fact and provided a sketch of the location of these ruins.  To us it all just looked like scattered rocks.  But if you looked closely you could make out a pattern to the fallen rocks.  Obviously something had been constructed here at some point in distant past......supposedly well more than 2,000 years ago.

Ancient ruins on hillside at Kythnos
We gave Zachary a handheld VHF radio and told him to stay in touch as he climbed.  I had watched a small herd of large goats cross the beach and start up that steep hill about an hour before he decided to make this climb.   We sat in the cockpit drinking morning coffee and watched Zach make his way up the hillside.  He made it to the top and then we lost sight of him.  But he remembered to stay in touch with us via radio -- especially important now that we could no longer see him.  Soon we heard his say he was returning RIGHT NOW!!  Seems he encountered some of those large goats I had seen earlier and some of them had large horns and did not look friendly.  

Yellow spot upper left is Zach climbing hillside at Kythnos
He made his way back down the hillside, picking up souvenirs along the way.  He returned with several pieces of broken marble which had been shaped and polished on one side; obviously used to build something sometime.  I am glad he had this opportunity to go exploring by himself and hope we can return when Elisabeth is with us in a week or two so they both can go exploring up there.  There are even more ancient ruins farther west along the top of this partial-island.  And there is a hot spring on the other side of this bay that they might enjoy exploring.  We shall return.

Blue domed church on hillside on Kea
After Zach's climb we pulled anchor and motored back to Kea.  This time we sought out the Port Police to have our transit log stamped.  Must be that not very many people properly check in with the Port Police here because it took the guy awhile to find the receipt books and the little tin can holding the fees collected.  We wondered what happens when that little can gets full? Where do the monies collected go?

Weather was predicted to kick up the following day (Tuesday).  Winds were predicted to increase from the north at 25 knots.  We decided the best thing to do would be to head back west and return to Sounion.   We were afraid to risk going any farther south or east because Trey's flight home was scheduled very early Sunday morning.  We did not want to get stranded during high winds and not be able to get Trey to Piraeus so he could get to the airport.  Seas picked up noticeably and winds continued to increase all day.  We anchored in Sounion beneath the Temple of Poseidon in 30 knots winds.....the bay filled with white horses galloping across the sea.  We were all very glad we had made the decision not to proceed to Syros or Mykonos.  It would have been very uncomfortable and very slow getting back north in these winds.  And the winds were predicted to continue at least 4 days.  

This was our first experience with the famous meltimi winds of the Aegean Sea.  Many areas of the world have special names for local weather phenomena, especially for high winds.  In Greece and Turkey these winds are called meltimi and blow very strong for 3-4 days at a time, especially during the summer months. 

M-E-L-T-I-M-I = My Enjoyable Lovely Time In Med Interrupted

Captain Zachary
Zachary has started his own blog for his summer in the Greek Isles.  Anyone wishing to follow and read his perspective, here is the link:
Zachary's Summer in Greece

Parthenon and other tidbits

Zachary at Parthenon
Bill at Parthenon
We stopped in Chapel Cove for one night at anchor after leaving Kea island; then checked into Zea Marina in Piraeus to await arrival of our son and grandson.  Their flight was delayed 5 hours but they arrived in very tired fashion mid-afternoon on Wednesday, 15 June.  Our dock space at Zea Marina was convenient -- right across the street from Carrefour supermarket.  We had an early night for Trey and Zachary's first night in Greece since they had been awake almost 28 hours straight.  The marina receptionist had warned us that there was a big strike planned for Wednesday and that mass transit would not be operating, so Thursday would be a better day for sightseeing,
Archaeological dig at museum
Archaeological dig at museum

The next morning we struck out to explore the train/subway system of Athens to find the Acropolis.  Zea Marina is conveniently located for mass transit access -- about 15 minute walk to the Piraeus train station.  We took the train/subway to Omonia and changed to the Red Line.  Three stops later was the Akropolii.  Very easy even for first-time visitors.  

Archaeological dig at museum

Our first stop was the very nice, relatively new, Acropolis Museum.  This museum is unique in that it is built on top of and next to an active archaeological dig of an ancient neighborhood which is viewable beneath the glass floor.  This is really cool!

View of Parthenon from inside museu
The upper level of the museum affords a panoramic view of the hillside topped by the Parthenon.

After the museum we found a spot for lunch.  Gyros cost 9 Euro in this touristy area rather than the 2.10 Euro at the shop across the street from our marina.  Lunch was okay but rather pricey for what was served.

Then we bought admission tickets (anyone under the age of 19 is free!!) and started the hike up the steep hill to the Parthenon.

Much later (during our exit via a different route) we learned that there is a free tram that would have taken us about half-way up the hill and saved our aching knees half the effort.  But then we would have missed the two old amphitheaters and lots of pretty views that we stopped to appreciate as we trudged up that steep hill.  

Buy your tickets to listen to music in Agrippa's place
Story of theater
One of those old amphitheaters is used today for musical concerts and symphonies. It was built during the time that the Roman general Agrippa ruled this area.  Interesting to us because we had recently once again watched the wonderful HBO series ROME and remembered that character well.

Agrippa's place

Agrippa's 3rd Odeon (amphitheater entrance)

Oldest amphitheater on Acropolis hill
Seating for special persons at oldest amphitheater on hill

Agrippa's 3rd Odeon (view from Parthenon)

Bill and Zachary skipped on ahead of me and Trey.  Trey and I moved very slowly up the hill -- he due to his defective knee and his weight and usual lack of activity other than computer keyboards  and me due to my mitral-valve heart thing and bad knees and hip.  We stopped to rest several times.  But we fatties finally made it to the top!  And the pain was worth the effort.
Old amphitheater below.  We are sitting on wall around Parthenon

View of oldest amphitheater from Parthenon

At the Acropolis Museum we had watched a video about the Parthenon.  None of us had been aware of the fact that this famous structure was at one time painted bright colors.  That must have been something to see. 

What a shame that various societies destroyed portions of the Parthenon over the centuries.  Senseless destruction.  

And we also learned that it had been used as a mosque for some years.   That was the period when most of the statues and carvings were defaced.

At the top of the hill where the Parthenon is located, there are several other buildings.  We did not hire a guide, so we have no idea what these other buildings were used for or when they were built.

Another building at the Parthenon
The Parthenon is undergoing major renovation or reconstruction.  The only sign we found indicated that this reconstruction started almost 25 years ago.  Slow progress!
One of the out-lying buildings on top of hill with Parthenon

View of Athens from Parthenon

Zach & Trey; Parthenon under reconstruction

Bill, Zach & Trey at Parthenon.  We grow them big in Texas!

Monday, June 13, 2011

Water Maker Issues and Poopy-Copters

One of the things we checked out as soon as we arrived in Turkey was the water maker.  We ran it and it worked fine.  But I noticed a leaking starting capacitor on top of the 230 volt high pressure pump has two 30mf capacitors.  I thought "no problem."  I found a water maker service shop and bought 2 replacement capacitors.  I came back to the boat and went about the simple job of replacing these capacitors...I thought.

When I completed the replacements and secured all of the wiring, I decided to give the water maker a try.  As soon as the high pressure pump tried to start, it pulled so much amperage that it shut down the generator.  What did I do wrong?  Well, for one thing, I did not photograph the wiring of the old capacitors before I replaced them, so I probably wired something wrong.  I opened the junction box and switched the wires, same problem...I looked at the wiring diagram and switched them again, same problem.

So I called the Turkey water maker service guy.  He comes out and rather than wiring the capacitors correctly removes the entire system and brings it to his shop.  Next day he returns the system and has a very large smile on his face...everything is fine, he says.  I test it and it works great.  My screw-up cost me 180 Euros or about $260 USD for the guy to wire the capacitors correctly, and that is the reason he is smiling.  Oh well!

About 5 days later while in the Greek Islands, I run the water maker for an hour making about 190 liters of water.  It works fine, then abruptly quits making water...oops!

So, I methodically check things out.  The first problem I find is that the head bolts on the high pressure water maker are loose...damn that smiling Turkey service guy.  I have to remove the entire HP motor and pump to be able to tighten the head bolts.  After 4 hours of hot sweaty work, I am ready to test fails to make high pressure and does not make water.  OK, I assume that the low pressure feed pump is not working correctly.  I remove it and use an overhaul kit on it to make it as good as new.  After 2 hours of hot sweaty work, I am ready to test works fine, I think; but the HP still pump fails to make high pressure and make fresh water.  OK; I check intake water strainers and begin to take hoses and valves loose looking for either some air in the lines or some blockage.  I found no problem and after 3 hours of hot sweaty work, I am ready to test it...the low pressure pump works fine, I think; but the HP pump still fails to make high pressure and make fresh water. WTF?  It is now way past beer-thirty and you know I do not miss that very often, so I declare "EOW" (End of Workday).

While lifting the anchor the next morning I noticed that when Judy throttled up on the engine that the anchor wash pump slowed to a dribble.  Ah-HAH!!!  Eureeka!!  At that moment I realized that I had not checked to see if there was sufficient salt water flow coming into the sea chest to be able to support salt water needs of the generator for cooling and salt water needs of the water maker while they ran simultaneously.  You see, again Henri Amel thought of everything.  The sea chest gives preference to the generator and the main engine.  Secondary preference is available for everything else --  toilets, air-conditioning, anchor wash and water maker.  I had only been able to check the salt water flow to the generator when it was running and the flow to the water maker with the generator off...A true ah-hah moment when the engine took preference from the salt water anchor wash pump.......there was not sufficient flow for both.

As soon as we re-anchored I am in the engine room and take my "special tool" that cleans the pipe and valve between the Sea Chest on the outside of the boat.  It is a piece of PVC pipe with a bottle brush attached to the end.  It is the perfect size to run through the Sea Chest, through the ball valve on the bottom of the Sea Chest and finally through the pipe that runs from the valve through the hull.  I pushed the "special tool" through the Sea Chest and through the valve and hit something...I pushed harder and the something was expelled.  After 30 minutes of NOT sweaty work, I was ready to test worked fine and made really good fresh water from salt water.

Lessons Learned:
  1. Always, always, take a picture of something before you take it apart.
  2. Turkeys always cost more than you think they should, and can be avoided if you take a photo
  3. When looking for a problem, eliminate the easiest possible culprit first.
  4. As my Dad used to say, "Don't fix what ain't broke!"  Had I not replaced a leaking but working capacitor, none of this would have happened. 

While at Yacht Marine in Marmaris, Turkey I attended one of the Captain meetings which was put on by a long-time resident of Yacht Marine.  The purpose was to fill us newbies in on everything we needed to know.  It was moderated by a British guy and most of the attendees were long-time residents of Yacht Marine,also from the UK.  Judy attended a similar function called "Ladies Coffee" which was conducted at the same time as the Captains meeting and for the same purpose and was moderated by several long-time residents of Yacht Marine who were British women.  Really PC, aren't they?  Judy is a licensed Captain -- unlike most of the men in my meeting who call themselves captains -- but her ladies coffee was during the Captain's get the picture.

I was rude and left the meeting early because I quickly determined that these British men had nothing to tell me.  In fact, I was certain that most all of them had not left their marina slips in years.  However, before I rudely left the meeting, the moderator told us newbies about the holding tank rules in Turkey and specifically the helicopter patrols of anchorages and marinas in Turkey.  He said (and his fellow countrymen agreed) that Turkey has a fleet of helicopters that patrol anchorages and marinas looking through high-tech infrared goggles for brown spots being ejected from cruising boats.  The story went on that if they see a brown spot, they will land and issue you a hefty fine.  I left after that one!

Judy was told exactly the same story in her coffee meeting!  She wasn't as polite as me and questioned how such a practice could be beneficial.  What would be the likelihood of a helicopter passing over a particular yacht at the precise moment that someone flushed a toilet after a bodily function that normally happened only once a day??  And the likelihood of actually being able to see this brown spot from the height of a helicopter even using special infrared goggles??  She was told, "it happens all the time" -- although not one long-term "resident" could name one single yacht that they knew this has personally happened to.  Judy declared her disbelief about this helicopter scenario to monitor holding tank compliance.

We compared our meeting notes and especially the outrageous story about what we began to call the Poopy-Copters, We thought that they were joking, or that the joke was on us.  However, they were just as serious as could be.  But, bless their little hearts, they had not left the marina to go anywhere in years and they were just passing along what they believed to be true.  You know, another cruiser myth.

Well, that is what I thought until we ran across one of the Turkey Poopy-Copters...Judy took a photo for all of you folks who thought this to be a myth.  And, for you true believers who knew they existed, bless your little hearts.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Almost to Athens

Samos did not hold much for us in the way of sight-seeing because my bronchitis was still pretty bad.  I had wanted to see the famous aqueduct tunnels but we just never made it up there.  We stayed in the anchorage June 1 through 4 and then moved to the town quay when space became available.  Bill had been working on the watermaker (I'll let him write that story), but had been unable to get it working.  We were down to only 300 liters of water in the storage tank and he was getting worried, so we moved to the quay.  Yachts pay the same daily fee in Pithagorio whether anchored or at the quay with free water and electricity.  Frankly, I preferred the anchorage but I think Bill preferred the quay.  It was too noisy for me with all the bars and restaurants and motorbikes driving around town all night long.

Luckily for us, Marc and Jane (and kids: Caroline, Grant and Noah) on S/V IMAGINE arrived and helped us with our stern lines when mooring to the quay.  I honestly do not know how people handle this without any assistance.  But everyone was just sitting around watching us back up to the quay and not one person offered to help.  We had called Marc and knew he was on his way to help us.  He and Jane arrived just in time as we reached the concrete wall.  We owe them!!  Could not have done it without their help.  Bill was driving at the helm and no way could I have stepped off our stern steps onto that high concrete wall until we got the passarelle in place; and you cannot place the passarelle until the boat is securely docked and tied.

On Sunday evening we ate pizza dinner at one of the local restaurants with Marc and Jane and kids.  As we ended our meal the proprietor delivered to our table ouzo for the men, glasses of the special sweet Samos white wine for the ladies, and ice creams for the children --all complimentary!  Wasn't that nice!  And totally unexpected.  Bill pointed out that we had eaten earlier than normal for this area and that people were just then beginning to walk up and down the quay looking at all the restaurants trying to decide where to eat that evening.  If a restaurant has lots of people sitting at the tables, then that restaurant looks more inviting to prospective customers than a restaurant with empty tables.  Typical herd mentality:  others are there so it must be better than the place with no customers.  Maybe this ploy worked, because the place was filling up by the time we paid our tab and left. 

Monday, June 6, was Bill's birthday.  We had talked about it the previous evening during dinner, and 12-yr-old Caroline decided that every birthday demanded some form of cake or sweet treat to celebrate.  So she baked a batch of delicious brownies.  Marc, Jane and all 3 kids came over at sunset and presented Bill with a decorated plate of Happy Birthday Brownies as well as a homemade birthday card.  I loved this card!  The youngest boy (don't know his age but he is still at that stage of losing front teeth) had drawn the countries of the world as he remembered them; and had his older sister write the country names; and had drawn the route of a circumnavigation.  On the reverse side was written:  "Flying would be quicker but you took the fun way."  Then each family member had signed it and written some sort of sentiment.  Caroline wrote a little riddle: 
Question: What do you get when you cross and elephant with a kangaroo?
Answer (written upside down):  Great big holes all over Australia
I thought that was pretty darn cute.

They also gave us DVD's of the Horatio Hornblower series!  We love the series!

I also loved the world map and the route of the circumnavigation.  The crew of IMAGINE hail from Chicago.  The route starts and ends in the far northeast of the USA at the Great Lakes.  Too cute.  And I really appreciated the fact that the kids left the Red Sea and the entire continent of Africa entirely out of their world map.  For those who don't already know, Marc actually sailed through the Gulf of Aden and Red Sea this year.  They were in the Maldives when the piracy got so bad.  The transport that we did was not yet arranged.  So Marc and Jane and kids backtracked over to the coast of India; motored completely up the Indian coast all the way to latitude 24 North (off Pakistan), before turning west over to Muscat.  Jane and the kids got off in Muscat, Oman; and stayed there until flying to Egypt to meet Marc when he arrived in Port Ghalib. Marc had 2 friends as crew for the grueling passage across the northern Indian Ocean and Gulf of Aden.  Then 1 crew member departed at Aden, and Marc and the remaining 1 friend sailed the rest of the distance up the Red Sea.   There were some harrowing experiences in the Gulf of Aden; at one time there were 3 pirate attacks going on encircling IMAGINE.  Very scary!  We are so, so glad he made it safely!!  

Circumnavigation route by kids on S/V IMAGINE

Noah & Grant checking out our engine room
Anyway, since the kids were not on the boat for that section of the passage, they have deleted it from their minds.  They did tour Egypt and Israel before sailing up to Turkey, but they left those 2 countries off as well.  I also just love the fact that Europe doesn't really exist.  They drew Turkey and then Poland (don't know where that came from??), but left out Greece,Italy, Spain France and England, etc.  I love the way kids' minds work!  You really never know what is going on in there!

The following day we departed Samos.  Next stop was the remote bay on the southernmost tip of the island of Fournoi, latitude 37.31.92N longitude 026.30.29E.  Loved this bay and had it all to ourselves until around 17:00 when the Swiss, Germans and French arrived on 3 other boats.  There were way too many very white bare butts showing there for awhile!  First thing the next morning we left for the 50+ mile sail over to Mykonos.  Mykonos supposedly is the gay capitol of Europe, but we saw no evidence of any more gay guys than normal.  We anchored off a beach resort at Ormos Ornos at latitude 37.24.98N longitude 025.19.53E.  This spot was a little exposed but was comfortable enough for us since we were only going to be there one night.  It was better than going father into the head of the bay where at least a dozen other sailboats were already anchored.  We wanted to be able to get out easily early the next morning.

The old and the new at Kea
The following day we motored up to the island of Kea, the first island south of the mainland peninsula.  While motoring that day we heard a response to a mayday call from the area where we had anchored at the southern tip of the island of Fournoi a few days earlier.  A yacht had struck a rock and was taking on water.  Never heard how that turned out.  

We are anchored in Limon Ay Nikolaou at latitude 37.40.13N longitude 024.19.24E, directly in front of an old coaling station for steamers plying between Black Sea ports and western Europe.  According to our sailing guide book, recent excavations on the northern side of this bay by an American school (very near to where we are anchored) have unearthed an important Bronze Age settlement inhabited from around 2000 BC to 1400 BC.  Pottery, domestic and ornamental, and the classic Cycladic figurines have been unearthed among the buildings, many of which are now just under the sea.  On the hill overlooking this small bay there is a new villa, very nice with tennis court and swimming pool and what appear to be 2 guest houses adjoining the main home.  Beneath this new home are some of the remains of the old coaling station.  Nice contrast between the old and the new, with knowledge that directly beneath the water at that area rests the old Bronze Age settlement.  BTW, we have noticed quite a few large, very nice villas on Mykonos and Kea.  There are obviously some well-heeled Greeks to afford places like this.  Some have helicopter pads and must be get-aways for rich owners, probably living in the not-too-distant Athens area.

Our charts indicate that there are underwater cables running near this area.  Yesterday 4 yachts came and anchored right over those cables.  We were careful to avoid that restricted area when we dropped our anchor.  The other yachts did not care at all that it was a restricted anchoring area.  I called out to one German boat as he was about to drop his anchor and warned him about the underwater cables.  He just shrugged his shoulders, said "thank you" and dropped the hook anyway.   Hope the island still has phone and electricity when those 4 yachts pull up their anchors.

Ormos Vourkari on island of Kea, Greece
To the east of where we are anchored is the tiny village of Ormos Vourkari.  The main village is way to the south side of this large multi-bay-bay at Ormos Livadhi.  There supposedly is a large rock carving on top of a hill about 20 minutes walk east of Vourkari.  This large carving is of a lion with a pussy-cat face and is attributed to an Ionian sculptor from around 600 B.C.  We decided that would be something for the grandkids to see, so we hope to return here with them later in the summer and check it out.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Transport follow-up

Remember the boat that sustained sugar scoop damage during transit?  

We recently received an email from the owner advising that SevenStar was paying for the repair in full -- no deductible.  

Can't ask for a better resolution than that!

On another note, one of the other boats reported that they had gotten a rat inside their boat.  They believe this rat came aboard in the Maldives.  With all the trash and garbage in the water in Male, that is not an unrealistic assumption.  Unfortunately, this rat ate through lots of the woodwork and wiring and plumbing in the interior of their yacht.  What a mess!!  Most of us closed all sea cocks and sealed off any entrances on our boats to prevent rats from coming aboard while our boats were on the transport ship.  Getting a rat inside our boat was a big scare factor about transporting for most of us.  Definitely close off all openings if transporting your yacht.

Update Aug 2012:  We have run into several other boats who transported with us last year, and have learned that all damage caused by the rat was covered by the transport insurance.   The owners of that boat were quite happy with the repairs.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Arrived in Greece

Motoring north along the coast of Turkey was easier than we had been led to believe to expect.  The wind gods were with us, it seems.  True to the rumors, if there was wind then it was right on our nose.  But most of the time there was no wind at all.  Sea was glassy smooth most of the time.  We lucked out and did not experience any strong headwinds whatsoever during the approximately 150 miles north from Marmaris.

Our final night in Turkey was spent anchored at a lovely small island called Catalada, lattitude 37.00.3N longitude 027.13.17 E.   We had planned to anchor in Gumusluk.  The pilot guide said that Gumusluk was pretty and nice, but as we were negotiating the entrance the loudest call to prayer we have ever heard was blasting from the loud speakers on the mosque right on the shoreline.  It was deafening!!!!  Plus the bay was already crowded with anchored yachts.  Spending the night in such a crowded place and knowing that the mosque speakers would blast us out of bed at 04:30 the next morning did not seem at all appealing.  I just had a bad feeling about this place.  So we turned right around and backtracked to the little island of Catalada.  So glad we made this hasty decision.

Dog water skiing
There were several yachts already anchored at Catalada when we arrived about 16:00, so we anchored behind them.  As sunset approached, one yacht after another weighed anchor and motored away.  Only 4 yachts remained there overnight.  Several very small "tourist" boats came and went during the late afternoon.  Turkey has extremely few islands.  Almost all the islands along the Turkish coast belong to Greece.  Some of these do not make a lot of sense to me.  It is almost like considering Catalina Island to belong to Mexico rather than to California.  Catalada is one of those rare Turkish islands.  I would recommend this stop
Water skiing dog
to anyone traveling through this area.  There is a roped off beach swimming area and numerous picnic tables set beneath trees ashore.  A very nice stop and well protected from meltimi winds.

One of the sights we were treated to was a water-skiing dog.  The dog did not look the least bit thrilled to be doing this, but he stayed on the board as the small boat raced back and forth through the anchorage.  There were 2 dogs on this small boat.  The man attempted to get the other dog to water ski also, but that dog was having nothing to do with this activity.  He repeatedly jumped off the board and swam to the boat to be picked up.  

We had planned to stop in another anchorage in Turkey and delay our arrival into Greece.  The Schengen Treaty prohibits us from staying more than 90 days in all EU countries combined.  This year we plan to spend the entire 90 days in Greece.  Our grandson arrives in Athens on the morning of 14 June and departs 19 August.  If we clear into Greece too early then we will have to make a mad dash south through the Greek islands after 19 August in order to clear out before our allotted 90 days expire.   

However, when we checked weather gribs the next morning our plans changed.   Winds were predicted to increase and clock from northwesterly to due north -- the exact direct we needed to go.  Rather than stop as planned, it made more sense to get as far north as needed before the winds increased.  So, scratch the plans to stop in Buyukturnali and get on up to Samos.  And, miracle of all miracles, we actually managed to sail about 3 hours this day!  The entire trip from Marmaris to Samos was motoring except for these 3 hours of sailing.

Town Quay; Samos, Greece
We arrived in Pithagorion on the southern side of Samos around 14:30.  As we approached the breakwater Bill put out fenders and stern lines and folded down the bimini in preparation of (hopefully) backing in at the town quay.  I kept telling him that he was being very optimistic.  We motored in and looked around.  Nope, all full already.  There was an opening on the guay where the edge was painted blue.  At least 4 boats could have fit there, but since no other boat was moored in the blue area I assumed it was not an area open to visiting yachts.  Later we learned that the Port Police and Customs offices are located at that area and
Town Quay; Samos, Greece
that visiting yachts are indeed not allowed to moor there.  

We turned around and anchored just outside the town harbor in a very nice anchorage.  This anchorage is well-protected by the breakwater for the town harbor and there is a nice beach.  Lovely little place with room for about 20 boats to anchor.  There is a low stone wall where you tie off the dinghy, then walk a few steps to the restaurant row on the town quay.  Perfect place.  I actually like being anchored out here better than being tied to the busy town quay.

Samos narrow street, steep stairs upper half.
The pilot guide does not provide any details about clearance procedures.  We found the Customs office and were instructed to first go to the regular Police to have our passports stamped.  This involved a short walk; we had to stop 5 times to ask directions but it was all very easy.  With passports stamped (free), we returned to the Customs office where we obtained our Transit Log (cost 30 Euros).  Then next door to the Port Police (formerly called Coast Guard) where we paid our harbor dues and another fee (for what I have no idea) (cost 21.50 Euro).  Total cost to clear into Greece for 2 persons on a 16-meter yacht was $75.60 USD.  Not one of the 3 officials gave us the same answer when we inquired how long we are allowed to remain in Greece.  Based on the answers received, we can either stay 89 days and will be charged a hefty fee if we clear out on the 90th day; or we can stay 3 full months, or we can stay forever.  Customs said we must clear out on the 89th day or pay a fee.  Port Police said we can stay forever.  Yeah, sure.

Vathi, capitol of Samos, Greece
Today we managed to buy sim cards for the cell phone and 3G.  This can only be accomplished in Vathi, the capitol of Samos located on the northern side of the island.  A public bus operates between the 2 cities, but we opted to take a taxi for convenience.  The taxi driver knew which shop we needed and he waited for us, with the meter running.  The taxi cost 27 Euro; a lot less expensive than renting a car and paying for gasoline.  Plus, having the local knowledge of the taxi driver was a real time-savings.  The main town of Vathi is lovely.  Great natural harbor.  As we looked down on Vathi from the mountainside we had the thrill of seeing a submarine emerge.  Really cool sight!

Public exercise machines
There is a tiny park on the low stone wall separating the anchorage from the town harbor of Samos.  The children's playground is fenced off.  On the outer area there are a few exercise machines.  We have seen this type of public park exercise machines in many countries -- Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore and Turkey.  The machines are always in excellent repair.  And we have seen people using these machines in each of those countries.  It was really a sight in Malaysia and Turkey to see women covered head-to-toe utilizing these exercise machines. 

Public exercise machines, Samos, Greece

Why don't we have such things in the USA?